But a youth-led global campaign, which recently planted its roots at 15th and Cherry streets in Center City, wants to change that narrative about young people.
“We are not at-risk. We are agents of change,” said 23-year-old Sophia Burns, a youth fellow with the American Friends Service Committee.
The use of negative language ignores the challenges young people face, Burns said, like poverty, racism or a cash-strapped education system.
Rather, the effort aims to have others see youth as “people who are in charge of their futures” and “positive contributors to society.”
The initiative has multiple parts, including a social media campaign — #3BillionStrong and #WeAreNotAtRisk, plus a GIF that features young people from around the world. Locally, there will be workshops at Philadelphia schools to teach young people how to tell their own stories.
The final part is to get the media to take a pledge promising to watch their words. The effort runs through Jan. 22.